Battle Report: Meeting Engagement, Easterlings and BN's!

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Battle Report: Meeting Engagement, Easterlings and BN's!

Postby BaronDeSade » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:33 pm

The Mouth of Sauron pushed open the tent flaps. He ducked his iron-masked head slightly as he entered. His black booted feed crushed the fibers of a richly-woven carpet of gold and bronze. He rose to his full height, naturally taller than a Man of Rhun even without considering his tall helmet and collar. His black cape fell open, revealing the war-dress of armor and sword.

Revelers and musicians fell silent. Rhunish men and women regarded the Mouth from behind festive half-masks that covered the top half of their faces. Pipe smoke hung in the air, along with the sharp smell of Rhunish wine.

Captain Tai-Shan rose from his seat. He smiled beneath his bronze dragon half-mask. Silk swished from his brightly-colored robes as he raised his chalice in salute. He spoke in the guttural language of Mordor, at once hardened by the clipped accent of Rhun and softened by drink.

“We welcome the emissary of Sauron the Great on this, the night of our dragon-festival. Make him a seat of honor, and ensure that his cup is never dry.”

The Mouth’s purple lips drew back, showing a bank of sharpened teeth. His voice was deep. “We do not come for your wine, or your frivolity. We come for your company, captain.”

Two more figures pushed into the tent and stood behind the Mouth. The first was another Man of the race of Black Numenorians; as tall as the Mouth and similarly attired. The second was an Orc dressed in dirty furs and stinking leathers.

Tai-Shan’s smile evaporated at the sight of the Orc’s misshapen features. “With all due respect, Lord,” he addressed the Mouth, “that pig-dog may not enter my tent.”

The Orc tracker snarled, but the Black Numenorian officer’s hiss silenced it. The Man stepped forward, eclipsing the Mouth.

“Captain Tai-Shan, the Orc trackers are a valuable portion of my army, and I find associating with them to be no more demeaning than associating with Men of lesser-blood, such as yourself.”

Several people gasped at the insult. Tai-Shan’s mouth turned down grimly. He slowly turned the chalice in his hand over and let the wine spill to the carpeted floor.

“We are the children of the Dragon,” he said through a clenched jaw. “Our blood is no lower than that of Numenor. You are no longer welcome here.”

The Mouth started to speak, but the Numenorian officer barked a command of “Silence!” at him. “Your arrogance is irritating, Captain, but I will forgive it if your company is assembled and ready to march within the hour.”

Smoky silence hung heavy inside the tent. Tai-San stared back at the Numenorian through his dragon mask. “My company moves at my command, and no other’s. You may return tomorrow, when you have found a more civil tongue to put in your head, and request our assistance.”

The Black Numenorian officer spit on the carpeting where Tai-Shan had spilled the wine. “There is no need, manling. Tonight, all of you shall die, and the dawn will illume your crucified corpses to warn others of the cost of insubordination.”

He turned and shoved his way out of the tent. The Mouth paused for a moment, and then followed him. The Orc stepped back cautiously, then darted after them.

Tai-Shan pulled of his mask and cast it to the floor. His yellowish skin burned scarlet, and his uninjured eye blazed. “Sergeant Ilhan, call out the company! May our father forgive us, but on this holy night, we make war!”

Bronze horns blew throughout the streets of the encampment. Easterling men and women instantly ceased their amusements and began to struggle into their scale armor. Hands strung bows and buckled on swords. Heavy rectangular shields gleamed in the torchlight. Slaves hurriedly strapped scale barding onto restless warhorses. The horses of Rhun knew the call of the horn, and sometimes they were fed the flesh of their enemies after a battle.

Outside the camp, a battle line of bronze-armored warriors began to form. Captain Tai-Shan rode behind it on his caparisoned warhorse. On his back fluttered a short banner with his name in Rhunish script. “Sergeant Ilhan, I want the archers in the center, and the spearmen behind them. Swordsmen on the flanks and Kataphrakts in reserve!”

The thick-bodied Easterling sergeant saluted with his halberd, then began bawling at the warriors, ensuring that all were in their proper places. Once the line had formed to his satisfaction, he stepped back and saluted Tai-Shan again. The Captain rode close to him and leaned over his horse.

“We must fight very cautiously, sergeant. The Men of Numenor carry about them a glamour of terror. Our warriors will be able to stand against them, but many will find that they cannot bring themselves to attack.”

Ilhan nodded. “We’ll focus on archery, then, sir. We’ll make them come to us, and then use our spears to support our fighters. We’ll keep tight lines and give them nothing but a wall of shields to fight.”

“Agreed, sergeant,” answered Tai-Shan, “Keep the company’s standard close to where the action is. The Numenorians are good with their blades.”

Ilhan saluted again. “Here they come!” someone shouted.

Tai-Shan could see them now. Two solid ranks of black-cloaked warriors in full armor and carrying shields marched silently towards the Easterlings. A gaggle of bow-armed Orc trackers followed in their wake.

Tai-Shan took a quick head-count of the enemy and cursed. He had no idea that Minas Morgul had held so many Black Numenorians! Never mind. Now, his only purpose was to ensure that as few of them as possible lived to see the dawn.

“Archers,” he commanded, “draw! Volley, fire!”

Easterling warriors drew their bowstrings back and aimed their bows halfway between the earth and sky for maximum range. They fired with a rattling hiss, watched the arrows sail through the air, until finally they shattered against the heavy armor of the Black Numenorians. Tai-Shan was fine with that. It would take a while for the enemy to close within melee range, and all that time, the Easterlings would punish them with arrow fire.

“Right flank, advance to that rock formation!” he ordered. Although the enemy outnumbered them, if the Easterlings could hold a battle line with a marsh on their left flank and a large heap of rocks on their right, it would help limit the frontage where they could be attacked. The Black Numenorians were many, but their warriors did not carry spears, and the phalanx-trained Easterlings could fight better on a restricted front.

“Archers, draw and volley fire!” ordered Tai-Shan. Another salvo of arrows hissed out to rattle off the enemy’s armor. The Orc trackers had slowed their advance, and now bent their crude bows back and unleashed a volley of their own at the Easterlings. Their arrows were no more effect against the heavy armor of the Eastern warriors.

Tai-Shan gave a new order. “Archers, target, Orcs. Volley, fire!” Unlike the Black Numenorians, the Orcs wore no armor at all, and would be much easier to kill. Two Orcs gabbled and fell as Easterling arrows pierced their half-formed bodies, while their return volley did nothing at all to the Easterlings.

The Orcs closed ranks and volleyed again, but their arrow continued to break harmlessly off of bronze helmets and shields. “Archers,” shouted Tai-Shan, “Direct fire, fire at will!” The Black Numenorians were now close enough that the Easterling archers could select specific targets, even through the dimness of the battlefield. Arrows began to fly out of the Easterlings’ ranks and stick into the Black Numenorians’ shields. Not only their shields, noted Tai-Shan with satisfaction as one of his foes grabbed an arrow that had lodged in his chest. The Man of Numenor sank to the ground, bleeding. His comrades stepped over him, seemingly contemptuous of his weakness.

Tai-Shan could see the Orcs moving at quick march, now, instead of firing their bows. No doubt they were trying to find a position where they could directly fire at the Easterlings. Fine, thought Tai-Shan, my archers will punish them severely in a shooting contest.

Casualties increased as the Black Numenorians came closer. Two more of the armored Men fell to Easterling arrows. The Orcs were firing back now, though, and Tai-Shan saw an Easterling warrior stagger back with an Orcish arrow in his shoulder. He examined the battlefield, and thought that an attack by the Kataphrakts on the right flank might bypass the Black Numenorians and strike at the Orc trackers. In a normal battle, he would be thinking about attacking the enemy from the rear, but horses were just as vulnerable to the glamour of terror, and could not be relied upon to charge the Men of Numenor.

“Kataphrakts, form up on me!” His heavy cavalry rode up alongside him. At the moment, he stayed in the center rear of his battle line. There was little sense in telegraphing his move to the enemy, who might move to block his cavalry.

There was no need, though. The Black Numenorians continued to march directly forward. Another fell to Easterling arrows. “Kataphrakts, with me!” called Tai-Shan, as he led the charge to the right flank.

The ring of iron on bronze cried out that melee had finally been joined. The Easterlings fired one last time, slaying three Men, before the lead elements of the Black Numenorians crashed into their line. With the finest traditions of Rhun, the eastern Men held the charge, then pushed the Numenorians back with one of the evil Men wounded and staggering.

The Black Numenorians pressed forward, and several of them began to pick their way over the heaped rocks on the right flank. Sergeant Ilhan responded by bending back the right flank, denying the enemy a flank charge. Captain Tai-Shan’s Kataphrakts were now cut off, but the Orc trackers were not part of the Numenorian battle line, anyhow.

“Charge!” shouted Tai-Shan, leading the forward Kataphrakts into the Orc trackers. The Easterling Captain felt a momentary weakness, like a black cloud forming over his eyes. With a supreme effort of will, he fought off the sorcerous attack, and slashed open the throat of an Orc. The Kataphrakt next to him was not so lucky, and swung blindly, allowing the Orc he was fighting to yank him off of his horse and drive a dagger up under his helm.

The battle lines dissolved into the barely-controlled chaos of melee. An Easterling archer shot down a Black Numenorian at point-blank range. Black Numenorians fought with a skill that spoke of decades of experience, and two Easterling warriors were outmaneuvered and cut down. A spear lunged between the falling warriors, transfixing a Numenorian.

Tai-Shan fended off several Orc trackers with his scimitar, then led his Kataphrakts in a charge. Those Orc trackers not fighting the Kataphrakts fired their bows at Tai-Shan, trying to bring down the Easterling Captain. The result was worse for the Orcs, as the arrows glanced off of Tai-Shan’s armor but buried themselves in the back of the Orc tracker he was fighting. The Kataphrakts crushed two Orcs beneath the hooves of their warhorses, but some kind of sorcery was still at work on the battlefield, and another disoriented Kataphrakt was unhorsed and slain by an Orc.

The melee in the center continued its bloody work. Black Numenorians slogged through the difficult terrain on either side of the Easterling’s lines, while the veteran Easterling spearmen reinforced their archers, now fighting with swords, at the center of their line. Five Easterlings fell wounded or dying to the skilled bladework of the Black Numenorians, but the Men of Rhun fought with determination, spearing four of the Men of Numenor. Tai-Shan could not guess which side might claim victory at this point; the Numenorians were better swordsmen and there were more of them, but they had lost many of their numbers to Easterling arrows.

It didn’t matter at the moment, though. He had Orcs to kill. In a supreme act of hubris, he charged past the other Kataphrakts, straight into the mass of Orc trackers. Again, sorcery clouded his vision, and the Orcs sliced the legs out from under his horse. Tai-Shan tumbled out of saddle and crashed to the ground. The Orcs were on him without delay, hacking through the straps of his armor. He rolled away as they pulled the last bit of mail from him and began to immediately bicker and fight over the choicest bits.

Tai-Shan crawled away from the melee. He had broken a couple of ribs in the fall, and cuts from the Orc knives were bleeding and wanting needlework. His part in the fight was over; he could only hope that Ilhan could keep things together.

At the moment, Sergeant Ilhan was ordering the Easterlings into a tighter defensive line. Three of the Men of Rhun fell to the Black Numenorians as they tried to step back. The Black Numenorians had now enveloped both flanks of the Easterlings, and the fighting became even more savage: six warriors on either side fell to the ground, blood pouring from their wounds.

Bereft of Tai-Shan’s leadership, the Kataphrakts were faring badly against the Orc trackers. In the bloody chaos of the melee, Men continued to die on both sides, with the skill of the Black Numenorians giving them a slight advantage.

Ilhan took a quick head-count of his warriors. Almost half had been lost at this point, and the Easterling army was close to breaking. “Easterlings, shield!” he shouted above the din of the battle. Those warriors that could, focused on defending with their large shields. Those warriors that could not, struck at the Black Numenorians with fury, often backed up by Easterling spearmen. More men died, and then both sides had fallen by half.

Orc trackers were valued for their skill with the bow. They were not valued for their valor. Six of them scooped up as much loot as they could and fled the battlefield, abandoning their comrades. Sergeant Ilhan was disgusted to see three Easterlings drop their weapons and flee as well. “Counterattack!” he shouted. “No quarter!” He struck a Black Numenorian with his halberd, knocking the Man backwards and into the Mouth of Sauron. The Mouth struggled under the corpse, but Ilhan was driven back by Numenorian swordsmen before he could slay the Mouth.

Terrified, the Mouth scurried away like a whipped dog. Two more Orcs fled as well, as did another Black Numenorian, but three Easterlings panicked and ran, too. Both armies were rapidly disintegrating. In a final clash, Ilhan slew another Numenorian, but two more Easterlings fell in battle and Ilhan knew his force could no longer hold.

“Easterlings, retreat!” he ordered, although it was hardly necessary to do so. The Men of Rhun were falling back, trying to save themselves, but the Black Numenorians were not pursuing. Their own army had been savagely mauled, and iron-armored corpses littered the ground. The Orcs were mostly dead or fleeing.

Some time later, Sergeant Ilhan leaned heavily on his halberd, watching Orc slaves recovering the Numenorian dead. He was dirty and bruised. His armor was splashed with blood. “I’ll be a gold piece that they won’t try and commandeer our company again,” he said with a gap-toothed smile.

Captain Tai-Shan winced as he took a drink of wine. “You’ll win,” he said ruefully, “There’s not much left of a company to commandeer.”


Minor Victory (by one model!) to the Black Numenorians.

Tactical Notes: As I implied in the story, I had to take a mostly-defensive posture against the Black Numenorians. In my previous battle against them, my troops failed many of their Terror tests, which left my lines in a shambles and gave the Numenorians a gross advantage. This time, I focused on defense and holding solid lines, save for my attack against the Orc trackers, which I will admit, was poorly executed. I focused on reducing the enemy’s numbers with arrows as much as possible, and then supporting my archers with spearmen in melee combat. The Numenorians could not afford to ignore the archers, who could simply shoot at them point-blank, so I was able to use my spears effectively.

Had this been a tournament game, it would have timed-out over the course of the 16 turns it took. I was pleased enough that I was able to fight the Black Numenorians to a near-draw in a meeting engagement, given the strength of their warriors compared to my own.

Thanks for reading!

Baron DeSade
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Postby Gartl » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:39 pm

Very good story! I really enjoyed reading it :-)
It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. - Boromir FOTR
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Postby The Mouth of Sauron » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:45 pm

Interesting intro to the battle. The story was very entertaining to read and well written, I especially loved Tai-Shan's final remark.

Your defensive tactics were a devil to crack and your concave (or covex depending on which side of the table you were standing one) line actually made it hard for me to get two on one matchups. My only option was to go through the difficult terrain and overwhelm your flankers. It might have behooved you to reinforce those flanks with spears and to try and refuse them slightly along the difficult terrain to slow my envelopment. Once I was able to get around the edges the battle started to swing my way until I finally got that breach in your center which cut off your right flank and left it to die on the vine.

Tai-shan did get a little big for his britches at the end. You and the rest of the world may think little of orc trackers as combattants, but they decimated your Kataphracts to the man and using their daggers no less. Still I need to put a captain back there for them to rally on in order to keep my own force from disintegrating so fast.

I really appreciate the hard fought lesson you gave me about my force. At any rate I have some food for thought on some weaknesses I need to address.
Last edited by The Mouth of Sauron on Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Drunken Mick » Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:26 pm

NEVER disregard the trackers. If any lesson you've taught me Tim, trackers are to be feared if not respected. 20 of them or some similar number *will* hurt you; and if you're not prepared turn the game against you.
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Postby BaronDeSade » Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:02 am

Thanks, Gary! :D

One of the strengths of the Easterlings is that they can play a very good defensive game. I certainly made some mistakes here and there, and if we were to play again, it would probably end in a draw. Sadly, I still don't see any way to win against your army, given my current army composition. :cry:

Cheers,

BdS
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Postby Drunken Mick » Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:57 am

BaronDeSade wrote:Thanks, Gary! :D

One of the strengths of the Easterlings is that they can play a very good defensive game. I certainly made some mistakes here and there, and if we were to play again, it would probably end in a draw. Sadly, I still don't see any way to win against your army, given my current army composition. :cry:

Cheers,

BdS


Sometimes pulling out a draw is what you have to do against a force you just can't beat.
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Postby The Mouth of Sauron » Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:59 am

Oh he can beat this force, but it does require me to make a few more mistakes or for him to catch the few I do make. His ability to change tactics from one that failed miserably to one that worked remarkably well in just one week is a testiment to his playing potential. Though I nearly gave him a couple of clean shots through my lines until I spotted my mistakes in progress, Steve didn't make any mistakes with his infantry defense. His cavalry attack on the orc trackers was his only real mistake and that wasn't because he initiated it, but rather it was how it was exectuted. Trying to use the trackers to hold off the cavalry actually looked like a mistake in the initial turns, but things went my way when my trackers started to believe my propaganda about trackers being invincible. ;)

Of course Steve saw his mistake as soon as it occurred so I'm sure he won't be making that one again. Sorry Brent, but your in for one more tough fight if you get matched up against Steve.
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Postby BrentS » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:14 am

The Mouth of Sauron wrote:
Of course Steve saw his mistake as soon as it occurred so I'm sure he won't be making that one again. Sorry Brent, but your in for one more tough fight if you get matched up against Steve.


Great.... thanks.... Tim I need to practice against you.

I've said it a dozen times but I'll say it again, I think the level of competition at the LV GT could be frighteningly good.
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Postby BrentS » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:30 am

By the way, I finally had time to sit through and read the whole report. Very well written and a lot of fun to read!!
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Postby BaronDeSade » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:34 am

I would be very difficult for me to beat the Black Numenorians, considering his troops are better, and more numerous than mine, and the fact that I cannot initiate a cohesive charge. The last one is really the deal-breaker, since it limits me to defensive tactics, only. Sure, I can play a solid defense, and if I get lucky enough, I can kill enough BN's to tilt the odds in my favor, but even when the forces are broken, he still has an advantage because of his higher courage. Tim is correct to say that he would have to make some severe mistakes for me to pull off a win in a straight battle scenario. Ah well, I don't have time to paint anything else before Vegas, so I'll just go with what I have and hope someone else knocks Tim out for me :P .

Yes, Vegas is going to be a bee-yotch this year...

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Postby The Mouth of Sauron » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:44 am

The good news, maybe, is that the Black Numenoreans may not attend Las Vegas. I might take the Watchers instead. Of course that doesn't necessarily improve your chances of winning any, but it would make Gary happier if he can manage to finish painting his wood elves. ;)

I expect given his current painting schedule that Gary will have to opt for another force instead of his deadly elves. So I am expecting to see his Dwarves or Gondorians in LA with a slight chance of seeing the Wood Elves in Las Vegas.

I've still got to decide on my 350 point good and evil forces for the Iron Ring tournament at Pacificon. I should probably register my forces with doc too.
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Postby febber » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:10 pm

BaronDeSade wrote:I would be very difficult for me to beat the Black Numenorians, considering his troops are better, and more numerous than mine, and the fact that I cannot initiate a cohesive charge. The last one is really the deal-breaker, since it limits me to defensive tactics, only. Sure, I can play a solid defense, and if I get lucky enough, I can kill enough BN's to tilt the odds in my favor, but even when the forces are broken, he still has an advantage because of his higher courage. Tim is correct to say that he would have to make some severe mistakes for me to pull off a win in a straight battle scenario. Ah well, I don't have time to paint anything else before Vegas, so I'll just go with what I have and hope someone else knocks Tim out for me :P .

Yes, Vegas is going to be a bee-yotch this year...

BdS


Sounds like you played pretty good defense to me, and in my experience, defensive tactics win more games than offensive tactics. You wisely used the terrain to protect your flanks. Had your cavalry been more effective, you could have mauled the orcs and reduced him to break faster.

Who was Tim's spellcaster? Just MoS? If so I would try to take that vermin out with Easterling arrows, sounds like his nerfing Tai-Shan cost you the game.
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Postby BaronDeSade » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:31 pm

Defense is OK, but in a time-limited environment, I would have to be able to go on the offensive to score a major victory. If Tim and I faced each other at the GT in a standard battle scenario, the most likely outcome would be a draw, since he lacks the strength to cut through my heavy armor before the time would expire.

The MoS actually failed in his attempts to tranfix Tai-Shan, twice. I just wrote it that way because it sounded better than dying to a gaggle of dumb Orc trackers.

Cheers,

BdS :cry:
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Postby Drunken Mick » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:51 pm

ph334 the trackerz!!
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Postby febber » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:51 pm

BaronDeSade wrote:Defense is OK, but in a time-limited environment, I would have to be able to go on the offensive to score a major victory. If Tim and I faced each other at the GT in a standard battle scenario, the most likely outcome would be a draw, since he lacks the strength to cut through my heavy armor before the time would expire.

Cheers,

BdS :cry:


That's a reality that a lot of us playing high defense armies face. Last year at the LV GT I got matched against dwarf hordes in both meeting engagement rounds, had no chance to win a major victory, nor did my opponents for that matter. Certainly not in 90 minute games.
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